What a difference a month can make.
The mood across Hollywood was glum in mid-July after a number of high-profile tentpoles underperformed at the domestic box office, led by Warner Bros. and DC flameout The Flash.
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Overall ticket sales for the season were running 7 percent behind summer 2022 by July 20, dashing hopes that summer revenue could hit $4 billion in a something of return to pre-pandemic levels.
Everything changed again on July 21 when Barbie and Oppenheimer opened and transformed into a cultural phenomenon. Thanks in large part to Barbenheimer, summer revenue now rests at $3.797 billion, a 16.6 percent spike over the same summer corridor in 2022. And the deficit from summer 2019 — when revenue hit $4.34 billion — has decreased from 15 percent to 5.4 percent.
Comscore chief box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian believes a $4 billion threshold is once again possible. “We still have two weekends left, including the long Labor Day weekend holiday. It would be a fantastic result for the industry,” Dergarabedian says. “If you didn’t have Barbenheimer to make up for the shortfall of other films that didn’t live up to expectations, we’d be looking at a very different summer. Or Sound of Freedom. No one expected that.”
While big summer movies are winding down, grosses should be goosed on Aug. 27 when thousands of theaters across the country slash ticket prices to $4 for any title in any format in honor of the second-annual National Cinema Day.
More than 3,000 movie theaters operating north of 30,000 screens will participate in the one-day event. Consumers can choose from an array of offerings, from new releases Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story, Golda and Retribution to holdover hits such as Barbie, Oppenheimer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and Sound of Freedom. The Super Mario Bros. Movie and The Little Mermaid Sing-Along will also be on the marquee, along with rereleases of such classics as Jurassic Park (3D), American Graffiti, Lady Bird and Oldboy.
Barbie tops the list of top-grossing summer titles at the domestic box office with $566.8 million, followed by Spider-Man: Across the Universe ($380.9 million), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($359 million), The Little Mermaid ($297.2 million), Oppenheimer ($285.4 million) and Sound of Freedom ($177.8 million). The next two biggest earners are Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny ($173.6 million) and Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part I ($164.6 million), both of which have been considered disappointments. All grosses are as of Aug. 20.
Domestic revenue year to date sits at $6.486 billion, a 24.4 jump over 2022 but still down 14.1 percent over 2019.
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